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August 17

Cash Covers “They Killed Him”: Kristofferson’s Tribute Song to his Heroes

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They Killed Him – Johnny Cash

Indeed! There will never be another Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson’s songwriting was influential. Without hypocrisy, both men really have social consciences.

Kris Kristofferson and His Holy Men

Kristofferson’s They Killed Him honors the men he looked up to. They were Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. Only three, however, got into the song.

Luther, Gandhi, and Jesus were all paradigms of courage. They stood and fought for the causes they believed in even at the cost of their own lives. Similarly, the Kennedy brothers were the epitome of “brotherly love.” Be it football or political campaigns, there was no rivalry between them. Hand in hand, they supported each other, instead.

Kristofferson was an army veteran who’ve personally seen and experienced the horrors of war. Notwithstanding, he openly opposes the US’ preceding involvements in war. Through his songs, he won’t just be silenced from addressing issues he’s passionate about. A bold move that often leads to arguments with his peers.

The Song and its Cover Artists

Cash had the privilege to first record Kristofferson’s song in 1984. He made it as the B-side to his single Three Bells and with the Carter family. The following year, Kristofferson included the track in his album, Repossessed. Come 1986, Bob Dylan recorded his version for the album, Knocked Out Loaded.

And now, hear the song from the songsmith himself. In the last verse, he specifically added the
“brothers Kennedy” referring to his other two heroes.

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bob dylan, Johnny Cash, kris kristofferson


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